Professional wrestling is the most basic of storytelling.
Cut out all the fluff and hype and you are left with Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.
Cain vs. Abel.
In the history of the sport there have been wrestlers whom the fans simply hate. Usually this was intentional. But sometimes something about a performer rubs people the wrong way.
Fan respond to heels in different ways. The men on this list have been booed, banned, pelted and threatened with death.
This ranking of the most hated wrestlers is based on character and fan reaction to that character, not on who they may be outside the ring.
John Cena, the 10-time WWE champion and Make-a-Wish granter, is in an interesting position.
He's one of the few wrestlers who can claim to be hated and loved at the same time. Chants of "Let's go Cena!" and "Cena Sucks!" echo in the arenas when he is present.
He's cheered when he fights off Big Show, and booed when he attacks Dolph Ziggler before he can cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Cena must be aware of this love/hate struggle. Look at his face this past Monday on Raw when he accepted his Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year. A mix of frustration and disgust.
The man may never turn heel, but he doesn't need to do anything. He gets enough boos as it is right now.
Killer Kowalski had a reputation for pain.
His finisher was the dreaded Iron Claw, and he used it for much of his entire 30-year career.
In 1954, Kowalski wrestled Yukon Eric at the Montreal Forum. During this match he performed a knee drop on his opponent. The move tore off a piece of Eric's ear. (Joanie Laurer. If They Only Knew. pp. 144–145.)
In 1958 he wrestled Pat O'Connor. The guest referee was boxing legend Jack Dempsey. Kowalski kicked Dempsey in the stomach, forcing him to be hospitalized.
In 1967 he applied his famous Iron Claw on an Australian television host. (SMH.com.au)
This feared and hate man would go on to train some of the biggest names in the sport.
CM Punk, much like his long-time rival John Cena, is a superstar who seems to walk on both sides of the love/hate relationship.
He can garner just as many cheers as he does boos.
The way he handles himself in the ring is like Roddy Piper, who was also famous for "pipe-bomb" promos. Punk doesn't cut anyone slack when he is on the mic.
Former five-time AWA World Heavyweight champion Maurice 'Mad Dog" Vachon was a hardcore legend before a hardcore division even existed.
With his shaved head and beard, the one time Olympic wrestler would bite and stomp his opponents, while at the same time using any weapon he could grab.
According to WWE.com he would file his nails until they were sharp to cut other wrestlers. He would also gnaw on their foreheads.
He was so feared and rough that he was banned from competing in three different states.
Roddy Piper began his career as one of the most hated men in sports entertainment.
He started off in the NWA in 1975, quickly becoming the most hated man in the organization. He embarked on a legendary feud with Guerrero family while in the Los Angeles area, which included him insulting the Mexican community to gain heat.
When he made his way to the WWE several years (and two organizations) later, he began a memorable feud with Hulk Hogan.
According to WWE.com, the two engaged in such heated debate it ranks among the greatest in WWE history.
His interview segment, Piper's Pit, became a stage for him to publicly berate and tear down other wrestlers. In perhaps the most famous segment, he crushed a coconut over the head of "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka.
He would go on to become one of the most popular superstars of all time. But in the beginning, there were few hated more than "Hot Rod."
Hulk Hogan has been on both sides of the spectrum. In the '80s he was easily the most popular and well-known wrestler; more mainstream than almost any other wrestler has ever been.
His heel turn in 1996 was unexpected and shocking.
When Hogan turned his back on the fans at Bash at the Beach, the crowd reaction was intense. The arena erupted in boos and the ring was pelted with trash.
It felt even more unreal because of the words coming out of Hogan's mouth.
His frustration was real. The fans had moved on from the days of Hulkamania's pinnacle. He had become a relic.
After 1996, he was news again, and it meant fans didn't have to hide their resentment of him any longer.
And neither did he.
Nikolai Volkoff will be forever remembered for making the fans stand while he sang the Russian national anthem.
But he is also one-half of the most hated duos in the WWE, alongside The Iron Sheik. (WWE.com) He and Sheik would go on to win the World tag team titles, defeating Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo.
He later formed a tag team with Boris Zhukov and continued to sing before his matches.
Despite turning face during the first Gulf War, Volkoff is still associated with the evil Russian persona he perfected so well.
As the original "Nature Boy," Buddy Rogers never cared what pro wrestling fans thought of him. He knew he was great and did nothing to hide this fact, which irritated his fellow wrestlers. (WWE.com)
Rogers was so hated that promoters all across the country clamored for his services. His name on the bill would be all it took to draw fans. They came to see what he would say or do next.
After he defeated Pat O'Connor for the NWA World title, he took to the microphone and sneered, "To a nicer guy, it couldn't happen." The attendance for this event was a record that held for two decades.
His brash nature and attitude led to him having a reputation of being difficult to work with. (WWE.com)
But obviously all this worked for him as he would go on to become the very first WWE (WWWF) champion.
Born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri in Tehran, Iran, The Iron Sheik famously ended the six-year reign of Bob Backlund.
He wrestled briefly in the WWE in 1979 and 1980. After he left he took the name The Iron Sheik, presumably to capitalize on the Iran Hostage Crisis and distrust toward Iranians by the American public.
He returned to the WWE in 1983 as a despised heel. He beat Backlund for the title, only to lose it to Hulk Hogan four weeks later.
He went on to team with Nikolai Volkoff, where they would carry flag from their counties and spit at the mention of America.
In 1991 he participated in the infamous Sgt. Slaughter turncoat angle and changed his name to Colonel Mustafa.
This public embracing of a country in a war with the United States ensured nothing but hatred and boos every time he stepped out if the curtain.
Sgt. Slaughter has been the beloved American hero. But he's also been the biggest heel in the WWE...twice.
He first debuted in 1980 as a heel, along with his manager, The Grand Wizard. He would offer anyone $5,000 to break his signature hold, the cobra clutch.
After a feud with Pat Patterson, Slaughter turned face when he began to defend American honor against The Iron Sheik. They fought for much of 1984.
In 1990, with the first Gulf War on the horizon, Slaughter turned his back on America again. He teamed up with General Adnan, an Iraqi general, and The Iron Sheik, who now called himself Colonel Mustafa.
He began to wear an Arabian headdress to the ring.
Slaughter began to receive death threats from fans that were angry he turned his back on the United States. WWE.com called this period one of the most infamous in its history.
With help from Randy Savage, he defeated the Ultimate Warrior at the Royal Rumble in 1991 for the WWE championship. (PWTorch.com) He was also voted the most hated wrestler of the year that same year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
He held the title until Hulk Hogan beat him at WrestleMania VII.